Theraplay is a structured form of play therapy supporting parents and children to feel more connected. The aim is to enhance attachment, self-esteem and trust in others.
Developed in USA by scientists in the 1980s by Phyllis Booth, it has becoming increasingly supported as highly beneficial in supporting attachment difficulties with parents and children. It works by regulating the lower brain stem to support children’s emotional regulation. It is unique to therapy styles as it promotes touch and there is much evidence of how this process supports both parents and children.
Children who are referred for this method present with a wide variety of problems including presenting as withdrawn, depressed, over active, aggressive, phobias, difficulty socialising. Children are also referred for various behaviour including learning disabilities and developmental delays. Because of its focus on attachment it has been often used in the area of adoption and fostering.
The process consists of around 20 sessions. There is an initial assessment session where Engagement, Structure, Nurture and Challenge activities are offered to a parent and child. Based on that, a therapist then devises a plan of activities that will best suit the process. Each session, there is continuing dialogue with parents with 1 in 4 sessions solely with parents to assess ongoing progress and tailoring the activities to support the needs.
The sessions are interactive, playful and last around 20-40 minutes. There is generally a sense of a beginning, middle and end narrative and flow running through. The sessions may include singing, rocking, ball games and it also includes a snack and in this way, lots of the above four activities are woven in. Many the activities are highly accessible to parents and many are non- verbal including supporting the therapist to model caring touch.
The most common age group to be offered this ranges from 0 to 12 however there are specially tailored sessions for adolescents and groups.
I am trained in the first level of this form of therapy.